COVID-19: Denver Real Estate Demand Still Strong, Expert Says

Jim Smith recently listed this home at 1957 South Taft Street in Lakewood at $450,000.
Jim Smith recently listed this home at 1957 South Taft Street in Lakewood at $450,000.
Is the demand for Denver real estate staying strong despite the COVID-19 crisis?

That's what industry experts have said in recent stories about home prices holding steadier than expected during the stay-at-home order and a strong start to the resumption of in-person showings amid Colorado's safer-at-home program — and Jim Smith, owner of Golden Real Estate, sees plenty of evidence that this trend will continue.

"There's an under-supply of homes" in the Denver metro area, Smith says. "We're not going to have a crash, because there's too much demand and too little supply."

Smith sounds as bullish about the local scene as President Donald Trump is about a comeback for the national economy — which is ironic, given that Smith has made Trump criticism a part of his brand. For well over a decade, Smith has published a series of weekly columns in YourHub, a branch of the Denver Post that relies upon user-generated content. And for most of that time, Smith has juxtaposed his observations about the housing market along the urban corridor with political content that's gotten progressively more anti-Trump of late.

Examples accessible on Smith's personal blog include "Why Are Trump Supporters So Committed That Nothing Will Change Their Minds?" and "COVID-19 Crisis Is Putting Trump’s Disdain of Science to the Test. How’s He Doing?," which boasts a photo of Trump svengali and world-class liar Roy Cohn.

Until earlier this year, the lines of demarcation between Smith's musings on real estate and current events were blurred. But lately, he's made a point of separating them and has even launched a GoFundMe campaign to finance his political observations, which run under the heading "Talking Turkey." That effort has raised more than $6,700 toward a goal of $8,000.

His forthrightness hasn't cost him a substantial amount of business, says Smith, a former journalist. "When I started speaking out, I made a calculation: I thought, since 99 percent of realtors won't tell you their political leanings, if I show mine, then Democrats would naturally gravitate toward me because they'd feel, 'Here's a realtor who shares my values' — and if I lose some arch-conservative person on the right, that's going to be less than what I would gain on the left."

Overall, he continues, "I think it's helped me more than it's hurt me" — especially since a considerable number of GOP supporters who respect his honesty like to work with him, too, he says.

Smith has got no shortage of customers right now, for reasons he outlines in his May 7 offering, "New Listings and Showings Surged Last Week After Governor Eased Showing Restrictions." He writes: "Altogether, 1,648 homes within 25 miles of the State Capitol were listed on Denver’s MLS [multiple listing service] between Sunday, April 26th and Saturday, May 2nd. That’s pretty close to the 1,885 number entered on the MLS during the same seven-day period in 2019, and more than double the 819 homes listed two weeks earlier. (During the week of April 19th to 25th, only 993 homes were entered on the MLS.) Of those 1,648 listings, 29 were withdrawn from the MLS by week’s end for unknown reasons, and ten were entered as 'sold' without ever being active. That still left 1,609 new active listings, 511 of which were already under contract by Tuesday noon. That’s significantly above the 405 homes that went under contract by the end of the same period last year."

The volume of properties available makes sense when viewed from a historic perspective, Smith contends: "People are going on about how we're going to have a crash like in 2008" during what became known as the Great Recession, he notes. "But the circumstances are entirely different. What happened in 2008 was the result of bad mortgages, which are not being written anymore because of controls implemented as a result of the crash — and also there was overbuilding in 2008, whereas now not enough homes are being built."

The economic downturn "could be felt in the luxury market," he acknowledges. "The million-dollar homes may suffer a little bit, but not much. Although rich people have a lot of liquidity, it's mostly in stocks, and it's not a good time to sell stocks when the market's depressed. But the lower-middle class, the middle class and the upper-middle class, to the extent they can afford a home, are still a strong market. Millennials need homes and baby boomers need to downsize. I'm totally convinced of that."

Click to read more about Jim Smith's takes on real estate and politics.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts